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THE  ELUSIVE INDIAN                                    17

various castes. Even so, they complain that they're been polluted
by drinking from the same cup.'

Pollution—from the cup of Christ ?

Civis Indianus sum !

The search is off.

And now, it seemed a little less dark, for the stars were out and
the fireflies were having a gala night in the tamarind ; the whole
tree shimmered as though its leaves had been dipped in liquid
silver. To make it still gayer there was a slip of a moon hanging
on the lower branches, like a gaudy toy.
Footsteps on the hillside. My host appeared, followed by a
group of coolies. All of them had the pure Chinese cast of features
which is typical of Northern Bengal. (Were they 'Indians'? But
no—we've given up asking that question.) He gave the coolies
some directions and they wandered up the mountain path* hum-
ming to themselves in a monotonous chant.
'Well/ said my host, 'we pulled him through—the snakebitten
young gentleman. But it was a near thing.' He reached for the
decanter. * Chota or barra ? 'l
6 On the ban a side, I think.'
c Your Hindi's come on in the last year.'
6 You should hear my Tamil.2   To say nothing of rny Bengali. *
e It's a strange country, isn't it ? *
c Country, did you say, or countries ?'
He smiled at me in the half-light. 'You sound as though you'd
made up your answer to my question.'
'Yes.'
* And it's in the negative ? *
'It is.'
'Well—youVe learned something; and you've learned it sooner
than most Englishmen.'
1 * Large or small *'
2 The language of about 30 millions in the South.                                    ,
3 Spoken by 50 millions.   These languages differ from one another, and from
Hindi in toto*